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  5. "Es ist fünf vor neun."

"Es ist fünf vor neun."

Translation:It is five to nine.

June 22, 2013



Where is the clue here that this is about the time?? I put "It is five in front of nine" and was marked wrong, even though that's what it means (without context)! Also "to" wasn't one of the choices given for "vor" :/


The expression "fünf vor neun" is usually used when talking about time. When german native speakers read that, they automatically assume the sentence is about time...


When English speakers read that we also assume that it is about time.


I would equally see it as relating to a score in a game.


i think its a technique to make us remember...i mean when you do mistake so you will think about it and that can help you.for me i did the same mistake but now i think i will remember this sentence about time


Learning isn't always about clues and winks. Be flexible.


That will open doors for everyone.


'To' isn't a literal translation, but what an english speaker might say instead of 'until'


So 'until' is the literal translation ?


October 8, 2015 - VOR is a multi purpose preposition, and could be translated many different ways into English. Unfortunately, prepositions do not match very well across languages. They are very slippery but necessary linguistic entities, and rarely have a literal translation.

In this case, "fünf vor neun" could be 'before/to/until' in English. If you get the basic sense of 'beforeness', it will help with getting the meaning of VOR in any particular German sentence. Picking the best English preposition can be equally tricky.

This is why repetition is so important - eventually you just get used to how the prepositions are used, especially with common phrases for telling time, entering and exiting, approaching and leaving, etc.

So, have patience with yourself! :-)

Sorry I couldn't be more helpful.


By far the most helpful reply on Duolingo for me. Danke! Here's a lingot.



i liked very much you reply !!!!!

(get a like and a lingot )/


Thank you ! 09/08/2020


well, where is the clue in the english sentence? not needed


People say "nine to five job" in English speaking countries, what clues do you need?


Oct 28, 2017 - You would have to use context. If a person just asked you what the time was, then our current sentence would be it. A "nine to five job" would be neun bis fünf Job


You've either misunderstood the saying or misunderstood the sentence.

The saying "nine to five job" indicates the job goes from 9 am to 5 pm.

The sentence is saying it is five (minutes) to nine (o'clock), as in it is 8:55.

The usage of 'to' in these two contexts are completely different, with the first meaning 'bridging across this time period' and the second meaning 'before/until.'


"It is five til nine." was marked wrong.


I think this sentence is just about telling the time, in which case "five til nine" doesn't make sense.


'Five til nine' and 'five to nine' are used interchangeably.


"Five til nine" is not used in Australia where "five to nine" is the common usage. I've never heard it in the UK either.


First of all, it is "till" and not "til" (note the double "l") and secondly, till is a colloquial word meaning "until" and not a formal word. So now you need to check if "until" is accepted or not.


Till is actually a real word, tyvm.

Here is the Merriam-Webster definition:


1a : a money drawer in a store or bank also : cash register. b : a box, drawer, or tray in a receptacle (such as a cabinet or chest) used especially for valuables. 2a : the money contained in a till. b : a supply of especially ready money. 3. unstratified glacial drift consisting of clay, sand, gravel, and boulders intermingled.

transitive verb : to work by plowing, sowing, and raising crops : cultivate

Conjunction : Until

And as a preposition : 1 or 'til or less commonly til : until 2 chiefly Scotland : to

So yeah, not just a colloquial word, an actual word. You also replied to a post from 6 years ago.


Not according to the Oxford Dictionary which is the authority in the English language. It doesn't recognize the word "til" although it recognizes " 'til " (note the apostrophe) as an abbreviation of "till". And it mentions clearly that "till" is less formal than "until" and that "until" is the natural choice and that it is more commonly used in writing than "till". It identifies the word "til" (without the apostrophe) only as a word from the OLD English and as the origin of the word "till". So unless you are speaking OLD English, there is no such a thing as "til". If we are to accept any dictionary as reference, than according to the Urban Dictionary, nearly every single composition of letters you can think of exists as a word and you will find meanings for it.

To conclude, the post may be 6 years old, but it didn't receive a proper answer until now and other people now and in the future may benefit from the answer.


Means the same thing as five to nine. I suspect it's British, as I understand it, but wouldn't say it.


"5 to 9" sounds unnatural to me, I use "till" since it feels right to me. I live in Minnesota (although my family is PA Deitsch and we moved from Pennsylvania 13 years ago)


Very confusing that 'vor' translates as both 'in front of' and 'before'!


Why? They are exactly the same for me ... one is referred to space and the other to time.


To me, in front of means after. So five in front of nine would be five past nine, and five before nine would be five to nine.


Wirklich? So you visualize 5 minutes coming 'in front of' 9 as being 'behind' 9? That seems very unusual to me as a native english speaker.


Why? It's the exact same way in English too. "I had breakfast before going to work." = time "He stood before me and confessed." = space "Let's watch some TV before bed." = time "It happened right before my eyes!" = space It's literally the exact same way that it works in English. And while it's certainly not very common, one could even say "It's five minutes before nine" in English as well.


One way to think of it is to think of being in a throne room: Aragorn stood before the throne.

In this meaning, 'before' does indeed mean 'in front of'; certainly Aragorn isn't standing behind the throne!

So that meaning of 'before' works in both English and German.


"It is 5 of 9" should be accepted. It's always used here in the northeastern US.


Same area, agreed, five of nine, but always quarter to the hour


"Five of nine" isn't the same as "five to nine". Did they mean to put "five off nine" or does the sentence have a dual meaning?


in US usage (possibly only in people who grew up with analog clocks):

"five of nine"="five minutes until nine"; "quarter of nine"="a quarter hour until 9"

"five past nine"="five minutes after nine"; "quarter past nine"="a quarter hour after nine"


25 January 2017 - Starcats - Love your screen name!

And yes, all those ways of describing an analog clock are fading. My daughter was born in 1975, and has no problem with analog clocks and their terminology. My son, born in 1982 and despite my attempts to teach him the analog clock terms, has to pause and think about it, and far prefers the digital. Can't say that I blame him - the digital terms are a lot simpler.

We do lose some - the analog clock is often used for directions, most famously by pilots, but also to describe dial positions (washer, dryer, stereo volume), and unconventional intersections.

I wonder if the Germans (and everyone else) are losing their analog terminology too.


thank you! when my late cas kitty died, i started a geeky cat toy business to pay off his huge vet bills and named it "starcats".

and wow, yes, i wonder how if it's more a challenge for people who didn't grow up with analog clocks to translate "[thing] at 3 oclock!", when for me it's almost intuitive.

this is fascinating <3

yes, i also wonder if in other languages the analog terminology is fading.

i know a lot fewer people use "2 bits" than they did when i was growing up. i remember my grandfather, born in 1910, explaining to me how "2 bits" for 25 cents came about: in the west (and other areas) where small coinage was rare, dollar coins were cut into 8 segments like cutting a pie (but more accurately). each "bit" was worth 12.5 cents, so 25 cents was "2 bits". i was born in 1961 and heard "2 bits" all the time growing up (even aside from "shave and haircut, 2 bits", and i knew that it meant 25 cents.

but learning the why fascinated me.


Duo says vor= in front of, so i thought it must be about beings. I wrote there are five in front of nine. Is it completely wrong?


It means "in front of" in the way that "before" means "in front of." If you tried to say "there are five people before nine people" it would not sound like you meant "in front of", but rather that previous to there being nine people, there were first five people. It is possible that one could use this to mean "in front of", but most people would probably not interpret it that way at first, and so that makes it unnatural English. Think of "They stood before me." That's the kind of "in front of" that's going on here.


"It is five from nine." Is also accepted..


I am surprised that it is accepted. An English speaker would ask if by 'five from nine' you meant before or after nine o'clock, or if you were talking about time at all. Also, I think 'vor' is definitely 'before'.


5 of 9 = 5 to 9 where I come from.


Would "fünf bis neun" work to mean "five to nine" as well?


No. von fünf bis neun would work for "from five to/till/until nine" as in "from 5 o'clock until 9 o'clock", though.


Shiee, just trust ur gut in learning language. "in front of" seems ain't legit, thought "vor" as "for" or "to". Chose the later one, dang it, I was right.


For everyone trying to say that the phrase "five 'til nine" is invalid, it isn't. It's a very commonly used format for time, and it's a shortened way of saying something to the ilk of "five [minutes remain] until [it is] nine [o'clock]." Granted, the format of "five to nine" is certainly more common, globally speaking. But just because one way of saying is less common than another way doesn't mean that it's wrong. And for everyone else who's trying to say that "five to nine" is invalid, it isn't. It's a very commonly used format for time, and it's a shortened way of saying something to the ilk of "[There are] five [more minutes on the way] to nine [o'clock]."


Aug 1, 2016 - "Es ist fünf vor neun." = "Es (it) ist (is) fünf (five) vor (before) neun (nine)." = It is five (minutes) before nine. English speakers in my area (Seattle) are more likely to say It is five TO nine.

Since the analog clocks have been falling out of use, so have the terms used to describe the analog clock face. In digital, " It is five before/to nine." = 8:55.


Is "bis" typically used in this situation?


It seems like "bis" would indicate a full time frame ie "5:00 till 9:00", while this means "5 minutes before 9:00". I answered "It is 8:55" and was marked correct.


Shouldn't it be "5 until 9"


It's a time reference, 8:55. I would say that as "(it's) five to nine".


What is the word for from? Isnt that vor? Or is that vom


I put it's 5 to 9 and it was not accepted. How daft!


"Five of nine" and "five to nine" (and also "five 'til nine" and "five before nine") all mean exactly the same thing: five minutes until the hour of nine o'clock.


The next thing I tried was "It is five minutes before nine o'clock." That was also rejected! I guess it was too formal, LOL. I do occasionally use that wording with my students when they are being particularly dense. There is absolutely no way to misunderstand it.


flagging because I say it's "five of nine" when it is 8:55, not "five before nine"


Is the "neun" here in the accusative or dative case?


Does anyone know how it is really the structure of the sentence talking about time in English. Im not a native English speaker and i never heard talking about this kind of possibly in time , like 04:51 !!


so i wrote "it is *:55" and it was marked correct! :) lol


Another Correct answer is: It is 5 before 9. Like 5 minutes before 9 o'clock. It's similar in German to what is used in Czech by the way.


Does this mean" it is five minutes to nine O'clock?" Quite confusing expression.


Yes, it is about time. And please check the comments before posting as this has been discussed here countless times.


Well more like it is 5 minutes left before it's 9 o'clock.


Is it correct to say Es ist fünf nach neun?


I'm not sure, but i think "nach" means "to", more like "after" not "before"..


Why, it is five to nine


Mainly for an experiment, it translated it as "five of nine" which is perfectly correct idiomatic American english. This should be considered correct but it wasn't. FAIL


Wellll.... The goal, actually, is to translate the given German sentence into English. In your translation, you failed to translate "Es ist" and only translated part of the sentence, so of course it was marked wrong! I commented on here that "It is 5 of 9" is not accepted either, which it should be as it is actually a complete translation. I don't know if "It is five of nine" would work either, but both should.


Of course I translated the "es ist", but that's not the part of the sentence we're discussing. That wasn't the issue.

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